Part 2 of CJ Shnase’s post on his experiences with the Game Developers Conference 2015. Read Part 1.
After returning from the Game Developer Conference (GDC), a lot of people asked me questions about what it was like in San Francisco. I surprised myself with my response; I was so glad to be back in Fargo, and doing the work I love doing.
Support from the Fargo community
Fargo is in its prime right now. I run and own my own company making games, which is what I love doing. Being a game developer is who I am at my core. It is literally a dream come true, and it took me a long time of perseverance to achieve it. I sent out over 200 resumes across the country looking to get into this field. And whether you believe me or not, I believe that God shut those doors because I was meant to be successful here in Fargo. The community alone is why I feel as successful as I am today, and we haven’t even shipped our first game yet!
I have a very cool story to share from GDC. I don’t know if you have read or seen the articles that WDAY and The Forum did on me, but that was a great jump for us as a studio. Well, when I mention that kind of support to other independent developers at GDC, they really thought I was lying to them. They had no clue that a community would support anyone who wasn’t a politician!
Knowing how awesome the Fargo community is, and how fortunate I am to be apart of it has really changed how I’ve viewed running a business. I am not on my own anymore. I have met many people I can not only relate with, but share very similar experiences just from the starting up perspective. It doesn’t matter if I’m trying to make video games, we are all doing very similar things that we need help on. And, most importantly, those involved in the community want to help!
New connections, new possibilities
One of the greatest things about going to GDC was meeting a group that were from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. There is a pretty large indie scene brewing down there, and now they know about us. I am in direct contact with a woman who works for an organization called Glitch, and they recently hosted their annual Glitch Con. Next year, it is our hope that I, as well as other Fargo developers will be able to attend their con, not only as an attendee, but as presenters!
With these connections now made, we also have the opportunity to consider creating a Fargo chapter for the International Game Developer’s Association. IGDA chapters can be found all over, but mainly in large cities like Seattle or San Francisco. It would be really great to have a chapter up here, as we would have access to bringing in speakers to events like our local Core Con that happens every year.
Brush with Fame
One of the greatest memories I will hold onto from GDC revolves around meeting my “celebrities.” In a meeting-Jim-Carey kind of moment, I got to walk and talk with Josh Mosquiero, the game director for Diablo III. He is a superstar in my world, and it was great to get to know him.
I was also very fortunate to meet Tim Schafer, who started his career working on many of the Star Wars games that came out between 1989 and 2000. He is a legend in the industry, and it was difficult to not turn into a fan boy in front of him.
Why community matters
The strangest part of all this is that all these things that are happening for me, my studio, and Fargo, is a direct effect of my involvement with the community. I found out about the associate program at GDC through a guy who showed up at our Fargo Game Makers Meetup. I have met some great friends through the Game Makers, and some great connections translating to my involvement at 1 Million Cups.
My involvement with Fargo Game Makers led to the story Emerging Prairie did on me, that then WDAY and the Forum followed up on. I am now being approached by local schools to talk about my skills of being a game developer.
Ten years ago, nobody cared about that. I had to figure out how to achieve this career path on my own. Now, I am able to provide options for upcoming seniors. I can lead them along their path, and hope that they can get farther than I am at my age. I can’t say this enough, Fargo is where the action is right now.
Get involved with it, and watch yourself transcend!
[Editor’s Note: CJ Schnase is a local entrepreneur and co-founder of Fargo-based gaming studio, Wicked Soul Studios LLC. A few months ago, he was accepted to design games for the Nintendo Wii U, garnering attention that has only added to the rapidly growing game-maker scene in Fargo – fueled by events like the Fargo Game Maker’s meet-up, organized by Kyle Weik. Read more about CJ, here & more about the meet-up, and how it’s cracking Fargo cliques, here!]
Photos courtesy of CJ Schnase and Fargo Game Makers.